Meaning of Bail

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Words: 2106 |

Pages: 5|

11 min read

Published: Mar 1, 2019

Words: 2106|Pages: 5|11 min read

Published: Mar 1, 2019

Justice as we know was a right fundamental to all, but it's fallacy is evident, as money now results in its fall. Objectively analyzed the criminal jurisprudence adopted by India is a mere reflection of the Victorian legacy left behind by the Britishers. The passage of time has only seen a few amendments once in a while to satisfy pressure groups and vote banks. Probably no thought has been given whether these legislations, which have existed for almost seven decades, have taken into account the plight and the socio-economic conditions of 70% of the population of this country which lives in utter poverty. India being a poverty stricken developing country needed anything but a blind copy of the legislations prevalent indeveloped western countries. The concept of bail, which is an integral part of the criminal jurisprudence, also suffers from the above stated drawbacks. Bail is broadly used to refer to the release of a person charged with an offence, on his providing a security that will ensure his presence before the court or any other authority whenever required.

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Bail, in law, means procurement of release from prison of a person awaiting trial or an appeal, by the deposit of security to ensure his submission at the required time to legal authority. The monetary value of the security, known also as the bail, or, more accurately, the bail bond, is set by the court having jurisdiction over the prisoner. The security may be cash, the papers giving title to property, or the bond of private persons of means or of a professional bondsman or bonding company. Failure of the person released on bail to surrender himself at the appointed time results in forfeiture of the security. The law lexicon. Defines bail as the security for the appearance of the accused person on which he is released pending trial or investigation. Courts have greater discretion to grant or deny bail in the case of persons under criminal arrest, e.g., it is usually refused when the accused is charged with homicide. What is contemplated by bail is to "procure the release of a person from legal custody, by undertaking that he/she shall appear at the time and place designated and submit him/herself to the jurisdiction and judgment of the court."

A reading of the above definition make it evident that money need not be a concomitant of the bail system. As already discussed above, the majority of the population in rural India, lives in the thrall of poverty and destitution, and don't even have the money to earn one square meal a day. Yet, they are still expected to serve a surety even though they have been charged with a bailable offence where the accused is entitled to secure bail as a matter of right. As a result, a poor man languishes behind bars, subject to the atrocities of the jail authorities rubbing shoulders with hardened criminals and effectively being treated as a convict.

Evolution in England

There existed a concept of circuit courts during the medieval times in Britain. Judges used to periodically go? on circuit? to various parts of the country to decide cases. The terms Sessions and Quarter Sessions are thus derived from the intervals at which such courts were held. In the meanwhile, the under trials were kept in prison awaiting their trials. These prisoners were kept in very unhygienic and inhumane conditions this was caused the spread of a lot of diseases. This agitated the undertrials, who were hence separated from the accused. This led to their release on their securing a surety, so that it was ensured that the person would appear on the appointed date for hearing. If he did not appear then his surety was held liable and was made to face trial. Slowly the concept of monetary bail came into existence and the said undertrials was asked to give a monetary bond, which was liable to get forfeited on non-appearance.

In The Magna Carta, in 1215, the first step was taken in granting rights to citizens. It said that no man could be taken or imprisoned without being judged by his peers or the law of the land. Then in 1275, the Statute of Westminster was enacted which divided crimes as bailable and non bailable. It also determined which judges and officials could make decisions on bail.

In 1677, the Habeas Corpus Act was added to the Right Of Petition of 1628, which gave the right to the defendant the right to be told of the charges against him, the right to know if the charges against him were bailable or not. The Habeas Corpus Act, 1679 states, "A Magistrate shall discharge prisoners from their Imprisonment taking their Recognizance, with one or more Surety or Sureties, in any Sum according to the Magistrate's discretion, unless it shall appear that the Party is committed for such Matter offenses for which by law the Prisoner is not bailable." In 1689 came The English Bill Of Rights, which provided safeguards against judges setting bail too high. It stated that "excessive bail hath been required of persons committed in criminal cases, to elude the benefit of the laws made for the liberty of the subjects. Excessive bail ought not to be required."

The English courts use tick boxes for recording the grounds and the reasons for not granting bail. There is a use of a standard pattern that which lists out the various reasons for not granting the bail. These forms vary in their precise configuration, but in substance they are all the same as all of them set out the grounds for refusing bail in one column, and a number of possible reasons for the finding

In America, every accused person is entitled to a hearing at which evidence relevant to his individual case is considered to determine the amount of bail necessary. No precise rule can be laid down that will determine the amount of bail required in any particular instance. Bail is to be fixed according to the circumstances of each case. The matter is generally one for the sound discretion of the trial court. Although the determination of the trial court is subject to the review in the appellate courts for abuse of discretion, ordinarily the appellate courts will not interfere if the amount set by the trial court is reasonable and not excessive.

The amount of a bond should, of course, be sufficient to assure the attendance of the defendant upon the court when it is required. The bond should be fixed in such amount that will exact vigilance on the part of the sureties to see that the defendant appears in court when called. Both the Federal Constitution and state constitutions contain provisions against excessive bail. Bail set at an amount higher than reasonably calculated to insure that the accused will appear to stand trial and submit to sentence if convicted is excessive, and falls within the proscription of the Federal Constitution if set by a federal court, or of the particular state's constitution if set by a state court. But no hard-and-fast rules for determining what is reasonable bail and what is excessive bail have been laid down. That the bail is reasonable which, in view of the nature of the offense, the penalty attached to the offense, and the probability of guilt of defendant, seems no more than sufficient to secure attendance of the defendant.

The amount of bail, in and of itself, is not finally determinative of excessiveness. What would be reasonable bail in the case of one defendant may be excessive in the case of another. As indicated below, such matters as the past criminal record of the defendant, and the nature of the crime committed and the punishment therefore, are material factors in determining whether bail is excessive. Where two or more cased are pending against a defendant, the fact that bail in one case, considered by itself, is reasonable, does not prevent the collective amount required in the several cases from being excessive.

The gist of the problem confronting a court in setting the amount of bail is to place the amount high enough to reasonably assure the presence of defendant when it is required, and at the same time to avoid a figure higher than that reasonably calculated to fulfill this purpose, and therefore excessive. The general rule in federal courts is to try to strike a balance between the need for a tie to the jurisdiction and the right to freedom from unnecessary restraint before conviction, under the circumstances surrounding each particular accused. In other words, in determining the amount of bail, the good of the public as well as the rights of the accused should be kept in mind.

The Bail Reform Act of 1966 provides for the release of defendant on his personal recognizance or upon execution of an unsecured appearance bond in an amount specified by the judicial officer before whom he appears, unless the officer determines, in thein the exercise of his discretion, that such release will not reasonably assure the appearance of defendant as required, in which event specified conditions of release which will reasonably assure defendant's appearance for trial may be imposed. The Bail Reforms Act, 1966 was initiated by President Johnson who felt that under the Federal Rules, bail in an amount higher than reasonably calculated to be necessary to assure the presence of the accused is excessive.

It has been stated that the factors to be taken into consideration in determining the amount of bail are:

(1) ability of the accused to give bail,

(2) nature of offense,

(3) penalty for the offense charged,

(4) character and reputation of the accused,

(5) health of the accused,

(6) character and strength of the evidence,

(7) probability of the accused appearing at trial,

(8) forfeiture of other bonds, and

(9) whether the accused was a fugitive from justice when arrested.

A major factor in determining the amount of bail in a current matter is the character and former criminal record of the defendant. It has been held, however, that the criminal activities and tendencies of a person applying for bail on a charge of vagrancy do not justify the fixing of bail at an excessive amount for the purpose of keeping him in jail. In determining the amount of bail, voluntary surrender may be considered as an indication that the defendant has no intention of absconding from justice. On the other hand, it is also proper, in setting a higher bail figure, to take into consideration the fact that at the time of arrest the accused was a fugitive from justice, or the fact that the defendant has previously absconded while under indictment. Even where bail is a matter of right, the fact that a person has previously forfeited bail is a factor to be considered in determining the amount of bail; in such a case bail may be set in such amount as will reasonably assure the presence of the defendant at court, although bail may not be refused altogether. In setting the bail, the court may also consider the behavior or misbehavior of the defendant during parole from prison on a previous criminal conviction.

The probability of the establishment of guilt at the trial, or the existence of doubt as to the guilt of the accused, is a proper consideration in determining the amount of bail. Hence a court, in determining the amount of bail, may consider the character and strength of the evidence by which the crime charged is supported. A court should give some regard to the prisoner's pecuniary circumstances, since what is reasonable bail to a man of wealth may be equivalent to a denial of the right to bail if exacted of a poor man charged with a like offense.[12] An accused cannot be denied release from detention because of indigence, but is constitutionally entitled to be released on his personal recognizance where other relevant factors make it reasonable to believe that he will comply with the orders of the court.

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However, bail is not rendered excessive by the mere inability of the accused to procure bail in the amount required. In other words, the extent of the pecuniary ability of the accused to furnish bail in not controlling, if it were, the fixing of any amount, no matter how small, where the accused had no means of his own and no friends who were able or willing to become sureties for him, would constitute a case of excessive bail, and would entitle him to got at large on his own recognizance. It is the incarceration of those individuals who cannot meet established money bail requirements, without meaningful consideration of other possible alternatives, which infringes on both due process and equal protection requirements.

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Meaning of Bail. (2019, February 27). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 20, 2024, from
“Meaning of Bail.” GradesFixer, 27 Feb. 2019,
Meaning of Bail. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 20 Jul. 2024].
Meaning of Bail [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Feb 27 [cited 2024 Jul 20]. Available from:
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